At first blush, this looked more like a mixed metaphor than a malaphor, but on close inspection it is indeed a mashup of two idioms. This one comes from the local news in Baltimore: a Baltimore City official was giving an update on trash/garbage pickup problems, and trashmen were off work as a result of the coronavirus. Here is the quote:
“This last week has been extremely difficult for everyone involved, but there is a silver lining at the end of that tunnel,” Chalmers said. “The Eastern District will be back up and running tomorrow. If you can’t hear the sigh of relief in my voice, I’m glad that they’re coming back.”
It is a mix of “every cloud has a silver lining” (every bad situation holds the possibility of something good) and “light at the end of the tunnel” (a period of hardship is nearing its end). Both expressions involve a bad situation turning better, so this malaphor perhaps means a doubly bad situation made doubly better? Or maybe the official was thinking of silver linings for the trashcans. A big thanks to Fred Martin for hearing this one and sending it in!
On the show “Royal Pains” (S8.E6 Home Sick), there is a discussion of being able to find good news coming out of bad. A woman says to Hank, the main character, “This curve ball has a silver lining.” This is a mash up of “every cloud has a silver lining” (it is possible for something good to come out of a bad situation) and “throw (someone) a curve” (to confuse someone by doing something unexpected or tricky). A big thanks to Isaac Joel for hearing this one and sending it in!
Speaking of silver linings, you need to get the new book on Malaphors if you have not already done so. It’s called He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors and has a guaranteed laugh on every page! Get it now on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0692652205 or at Create Space at
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The speaker was obviously meaning to say “every cloud has a silver lining”, but where did the tree come from? Possibly he was thinking of a silver maple, those messy trees that every yard seems to have. Or, as my “ol pal” suggests, the word “sliver” instead of “silver” floated up in the brain soup, suggesting wood. “Barking up the wrong tree” also might have been in the mix, even though the meaning is not remotely close to the intended meaning. Any other suggestions out there? Thanks to Art for sending this one to the site.